After the tragic death of her beloved, Hester Aspinall vowed never to be ruled by her passions again. Still, she is drawn to her landlord, handsome adventurer Thomas Ramsay—but she doesn't fool herself that a man of his station would look twice at a poor tailor's sister.
With the sea for a mistress, Thomas has no intention of entering into matrimony. And yet, he can't get the plain-spoken and desirable Hester out of his mind, even though she's never tried to secure his attentions as other women do.
Everything changes the night Hester's brother is arrested during a raid on a gay brothel, the infamous White Swan. With no one else to turn to, and terrified Robert will hang for his crime, Hester accepts Thomas's offer to bear the cost of the defense. A true gentleman, Thomas expects nothing in return—but Hester can no longer deny her own desires...
She may offer her body eagerly, but can she protect her heart?M: Hester, thanks so much for joining me today at Books and Things!! I really appreciate you stopping by to answer some questions.
So, let’s start with the biggie: When did you know you were in love with Thomas?
H: Well, if you will promise not to think me very forward, I will admit to liking Thomas Ramsay from the moment we first met in my brother’s shop. He is a very likely looking man. But I never imagined that he would return my interest so I tried to suppress an interest in him that I might have felt. We moved in very different circles. It was only with my brother’s arrest and the chaos that ensued that Thomas and I were able to bridge our differences. But once I was installed in his home, I knew that my heart was in serious danger of being lost.
There were so many instances when he showed me what a truly excellent man he was. He rescued me from the mob outside the shop; he took me into his home when I had nowhere else to go; he assumed the burden of my brother’s upkeep whilst in Newgate. But those large gestures had less to do with my falling in love with him than the quiet, unobtrusive gestures I observed him perform countless times. He did them because they made me happy, not because he expected to be rewarded for it. That’s when I knew I loved him with all my heart.
M: Aside from the romance, you deal with some serious consequences of your brother's lifestyle. How did you feel when you first hear about the charges?
H: I thought the papers must be in error. That there had been some sort of dreadful muddle or that there was a case of mistaken identity. I didn’t even know what it meant to be ‘homosexual’ – Thomas had to explain it to me. I wanted to sink into the floor. But very quickly, I became angry. Angry at Robert. Angry at those false friends who would not support us. Angry at myself for the doubts I was entertaining about my brother’s innocence. It was not a happy time and I am eternally grateful that those days are behind us now.
M: What made you accept your brother as he is?
H: Is it enough to say that he is my brother, so I could do no less? But I cannot lie. The strain that Robert’s revelation about where his romantic interests lay and then his arrest put on our relationship was considerable. He resented my turning to Thomas and living with the latter without benefit of marriage lines. I resented his interference and his lack of faith in my abilities. We spoke very bitterly to each other in the early days of our mutual ordeal. But as time passed, the hurt waned and I came to remember just what I owed to my brother. He cared for me after our parents passed away and I was carrying the child of my late fiancé. Few would have criticized him if he had simply turned me out of the house for my folly but he did not. He was steadfast in his protection of me and when I lost the child, he never chided me for my grief, either.
His choice to go to the White Swan that night was reckless but it was superseded by twenty-four years of kindness to me. If he had been put to death, as some of his compatriots later were, I could not have lived with the guilt if we had remained unreconciled. We both of us made choices that the other found difficult to accept, but it is the nature of family to forgive.
M: What surprised you the most by the outcome of all the drama in your life?
H: That I should be lucky enough to spend the rest of my days with the man I love and my brother with the man he loves. Of course, I miss Robert dreadfully, now that he and Timothy have travelled to India to act as my husband’s business representatives but knowing how happy he is, now that he is free of the cloud that hung above him here in England, I have resigned myself to it. We are reconciled and distance is no true distance between those who love each other, I believe.
As for myself, Thomas and I, despite the differences and difficulties that lay between us in the beginning, are truly well matched. I am every day reminded of my good fortune in matters of the heart. It was not an easy road to travel but having him in my life makes all of the worry worthwhile.
M: Thanks again, Hester! I'm so glad to have you here! Everyone, don't forget to leave a comment or a question for Hester!
H: Thank you, Melissa. As a token of my appreciation, I’d like to offer one of your delightful readers a chance to win a signed copy of “The White Swan Affair” It is Miss Mady’s excellent book that recounts all of the perils, romance and adventures I faced with Thomas and my brother during the course of the trial. If they would be so good as to fill out the rafflecopter form a digital copy of the book will be sent to one lucky recipient.
Elyse Mady is the author of historical romances “The White Swan Affair” and “The Debutante’s Dilemma”, with Carina Press and two contemporary romances. Upcoming books include the Regency novella “The Debutante’s Desire”. She blogs at www.elysemady.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @elysemady, Facebook and Goodreads.
In addition to her writing commitments, Elyse also teaches film and literature at a local college. With her excellent writerly imagination, she one day dreams of topping the NY Times Bestseller’s List and reclaiming her pre-kid body without the bother of either sit-ups or the denunciation of ice-cream.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour: The White Swan Affair Tour.